|Thursday, July 11, 2019 - For full 2019 Illinois State Amateur event information, including tee times, a field listing and more, visit CDGA.org/ILStateAm.
LEMONT, Ill. – For the fifth time since its opening in 1989, Wheaton’s Cantigny Golf will serve as a proving ground for Illinois’ best amateur golfers, as the 89th Illinois State Amateur Championship will be contested July 16-18.
Considered the premier amateur golf event in the state, the championship will be contested over 72 holes of stroke play, with the victor hoisting the Louis L. Emmerson Trophy. The entire field will play 18 holes on both Tuesday, July 16 and Wednesday, July 17, with the low 35 and ties advancing to a 36-hole final day on Thursday, July 18.
ABOUT THE FIELD
A total of 132 golfers will by vying for the title of Illinois’ best amateur golfer in 2019. The field initially consisted of 497 registrants, with 29 being exempt into the Championship and the other 103 earning spots through one of eight qualifiers held across the state in June. Championship registration was open to all Illinois residents with an official USGA Handicap Index® not exceeding 7.4.
Players to Watch
Varun Chopra (Champaign) finished T16 in last year’s Illinois State Amateur Championship at Bloomington Country Club. The rising junior at the University of Illinois earned four top-25 finishes last season and helped the Fighting Illini win their fifth-consecutive Big Ten Championship.
Jake Erickson (Springfield) won the CDGA Mid-Amateur Championship in May at Northmoor Country Club for his first victory in a CDGA-administered championship. He has also finished second in both the Illinois State Amateur and Mid-Amateur Championships.
Tommy Kuhl (Morton) finished T14 in the Illinois State Amateur Championship last year at Bloomington Country Club following his victory in the Illinois State Junior Amateur Championship. The rising-sophomore at the University of Illinois earned four top-20 finishes last season, including two top-10s.
Jordan Less (Elmhurst) captured last month’s CDGA Amateur Championship at Glen View Club in his first appearance in the event, outlasting defending champion David Perkins in 37 holes. The rising senior at Northern Illinois University appeared in 12 of the Huskies’ 13 events last season.
Matthew Murlick (Winnetka) has finished in the top 18 in each of the last three Illinois State Amateur Championships, including a tie for ninth last year at Bloomington Country Club. A rising senior at Marquette University, he earned second-team all-Big East honors last season.
Charlie Nikitas (Glenview) earned a third-place finish in the 2018 Illinois State Amateur Championship at Bloomington Country Club last summer. The rising-junior at Miami (Ohio) advanced to the Quarterfinals of last month’s CDGA Amateur Championship at Glen View Club, falling to eventual champion Jordan Less in 19 holes.
David Perkins (East Peoria) won the rain-shortened 2018 CDGA Amateur Championship at Briarwood Country Club, defeating Illinois State University teammate Trent Wallace on the fifth playoff hole. A rising senior at ISU, Perkins fell in last month’s CDGA Amateur Final to Jordan Less at Glen View Club in 37 holes.
Tim Sheppard (East Peoria) won the CDGA Senior Amateur Championship at Briar Ridge Country Club in May, becoming the first person to claim all three CDGA-administered senior championships. He also made it to the Semifinals of the CDGA Mid-Amateur Championship later that month at Northmoor Country Club, falling to eventual champion Jake Erickson.
Logan Stauffer (Bloomington) is the reigning Illinois State Mid-Amateur Champion, capturing the title last year at Glen Oak Country Club. He also finished seventh in last year’s Illinois State Amateur Championship at Bloomington Country Club.
Rob Wuethrich (Bloomington) finished second in last year’s Illinois State Amateur Championship at Bloomington Country Club, just one shot back of champion Jordan Hahn. The rising junior was part of the Illinois Wesleyan golf team that captured the Division III national championship last season and recently qualified for the 2019 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst.
Others to Watch
Daniel Anfield (Channahon) earned medalist honors at The Sanctuary Golf Course qualifier on June 19.
Spencer Crowe (Lake Forest) earned co-medalist honors at the PrairieView Golf Club qualifier on June 12.
John Ehrgott (Edwards) emerged victorious in the 2018 CDGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Hinsdale Golf Club, his fourth title in a CDGA-administered event.
Mike Henry (Bloomington) finished T4 in the 2018 Illinois State Amateur Championship at Bloomington Country Club.
David Flynn (Geneva) earned medalist honors at the Arrowhead Country Club qualifier on June 13.
Charles Jahn (Peoria) earned medalist honors at the Hickory Point Golf Course qualifier on June 19.
Cameron Karney (Crystal Lake) earned medalist honors at The Hawk Country Club qualifier on June 18.
Ben Murphy (Algonquin) earned co-medalist honors at The Grove Country Club qualifier on June 17.
Brendan O’Reilly (Hinsdale) is a three-time Illinois State Junior Amateur Championship winner and earned three-straight top-20 finishes last season as a sophomore at the University of Illinois.
Quinlan Prchal (Glenview) is the only past champion in the field at Cantigny, having won the 2012 Illinois State Amateur Championship at The Links at Kokopelli.
Jon Silvers (Byron) earned co-medalist honors at the PrairieView Golf Club qualifier on June 12.
Eric Swanson (Vernon Hills) earned medalist honors at the Tamarack Golf Club qualifier on June 10.
Nick Tenuta (Mt. Prospect) earned co-medalist honors at the PrairieView Golf Club qualifier on June 12.
Jack Vercautren (Naperville) earned co-medalist honors at The Grove Country Club qualifier on June 17.
Eric Wessel (Dekalb) made it to the Semifinals of last month’s CDGA Amateur Championship at Glen View Club before falling to defending champion David Perkins.
ABOUT THE COURSE – CANTIGNY GOLF
The Illinois State Amateur Championship returns to Cantigny Golf, a public facility in Wheaton, for the fifth time and first since 2014. Players will tee it up on a course that has seen a variety of winning scores, including Todd Mitchell’s 7-over par victory in 2002 and, most recently, Raymond Knoll hoisting the Louis L. Emmerson Trophy following an 8-under par week.
Cantigny Golf has been the host of many top-tier amateur events including the 2007 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, three Chicago Opens and multiple U.S. Amateur Qualifiers. Through a wet spring, the track, which will play from 6,949 yards utilizing the Woodside and Lakeside nines for the championship, has maintained its championship form.
“Our turf care crew is absolutely fantastic,” said Head Golf Professional Patrick Lynch. “Our putting greens still got rave reviews throughout the spring and all of the key areas maintained really well. The course should be in really great shape heading into the tournament.”
The most recent change to the layout was on the par-5 second hole on the Lakeside Course which lengthened an already challenging dogleg right. The hole sits between two ponds and features a new green that stretched it to a stark 600 yards.
The Lakeside Course will be the closing nine for the tournament and its final three holes propose another challenge for the field. The trio features water down the seventh and ninth fairways and a green on No. 8 that is home to two shelves on each side and a bowl in the middle that will force players to hone their distance control.
“The last three holes they’ll hit will be a challenge. They are a great combination for the players to finish on,” said Lynch who has called Cantigny home for the last 22 seasons.
Cantigny Golf has been known as a championship-caliber course since its opening 30 years ago. It is again welcoming more than 100 of Illinois’ best amateur golfers and giving each participant a chance to reign as the Illinois State Amateur Champion.
“It’s very important to us,” Lynch stated when asked about hosting the event for the fifth time. “Cantigny is owned by the McCormick Foundation and we have always valued amateur golf. We really take it to heart.”
Former Iowa Hawkeye golfer Raymond Knoll outlasted Nick Hardy in a four-hole playoff to capture the 2014 State Am at Cantigny. The club hosted its first State Am in 1996; just 10 years after construction began to build the course.
LAST YEAR’S STATE AM
After coming up one shot short in 2017, Spring Grove native Jordan Hahn was on the other end of the slimmest margin of victory, earning the Illinois State Amateur title in 2018 at Bloomington Country Club. Hahn built a three-shot lead through rounds if 67 and 68 on the first two days of the championship, before holding on to win after two 1-over 71s on the 36-hole final day.
While Hahn will not be back to defend his title, eight of the top-15 finishers from last year’s championship will be back to compete in 2019. This includes Rob Wuethrich, who finished as runner-up to Hahn by one stroke, and Charlie Nikitas, who was in third at two shots back.
Springboard for Success
A victory in the State Amateur is oftentimes a springboard to further professional and amateur success. Past champions include the likes of:
- Jim Frisina Sr. (1942, ‘47, ‘54, ‘56, ‘58 champ)
- 13x U.S. Amateur qualifier
- Gary Hallberg (1978 and ‘79 champ)
- Joel Hirsch (1988 and ‘89 champ)
- 2x Senior British Amateur winner
- Jerry Haas (1982 and ‘84 champ)
- Mark Hensby (1994 champ)
- D.A. Points (1995, ‘98 & ‘99 champ)
- Luke Guthrie (2009 champ)
- 2x Korn Ferry Tour winner
- Vince India (2010 champ)
- Korn Ferry Tour professional
- Tee-K Kelly (2013 and ‘15 champ)
- 1 PGA Tour Latinoamérica win
- Nick Hardy (2016 champ)
- Patrick Flavin (2017 champ)
- 1 PGA Tour Latinoamérica win
Following a year at State Am regular Cantigny, the event will be contested at three first-time hosts in the ensuing years. The Club at Wynstone in North Barrington will welcome the 90th iteration in 2020, with Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville and Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette following in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Only One Looking For Two
Quinlan Prchal is the only past champion of the Illinois State Amateur in the 2019 field. Prchal overcame a host of competitors on the final day of the 2012 Illinois State Amateur as an 18-year-old high school graduate. Now 25, Prchal’s collegiate career at Princeton was highlighted by an Ivy League individual title in 2015. The Glenview native has played in every State Am since his victory, finishing seventh in 2013 and eighth in 2017.
By the Numbers
+5.2: Lowest USGA Handicap Index in the field, David Perkins
+0.5: The average USGA Handicap Index of the 132-golfer field
1: Quinlan Prchal is the lone past Illinois State Amateur Champion in this year’s field
5: This year marks the fifth time Cantigny Golf has hosted the Illinois State Amateur Championship
9: The number of players in the field age 50 and older
15: The combined number of wins in CDGA-administered championships by the field
28: The number of players in the field born in the 2000s
51: The number of players in the field age 20 and younger
59: The age of Tom Fox, the oldest player in the field
81: The combined number of clubs represented by the 132-golfer field
2004: The year 15-year-old Jack Inabnit was born, making him the youngest player in the field for the second consecutive year
6,949: The total distance Cantigny Golf’s Woodside/Lakeside Course will play for the State Amateur